Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Whooping Cranes Migrating Through North Dakota

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and
sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota
over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move
through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about
seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing
tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In
flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their
long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes
typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be
associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often
mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common mistake is pelicans
because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in
flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the
date, time, location, and the birds’ activity. Observers should
also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on
one or both legs. Young whooping cranes were marked during
1975-1988 with colored leg bands to help determine their

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service office at (701) 387-4397, the North Dakota Game
and Fish Department’s main office in Bismarck at (701) 328-6300, or
to local game wardens around the state. Reports help biologists
locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked
birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify
times and migration routes.


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